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Opel Manta A: A sports car for the masses

Anna Matuschek
Cars that you won't forget (37) - Opel Manta A
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S eit 40 Years Klaus Westrup has been writing about cars in auto motor und sport. For Motor Klassik he remembers, this time a sporty coupé from Opel.

On-site visit at the Opel styling studio, the year is 1970. Ford, the true Opel rival, has had the Capri on for a good year the street, a gorgeously styled two-plus-two that auto motor und sport rewards in the current test report with the headline 'Beau de Cologne'.

The Opel Manta A is clearly recognizable as an Opel

Charles Jordan is there, the US designer who designed the shape of the Opel Manta. The new car should look 'beautyful', he explains to us, while photographer Julius Weitmann, looking for styling impressions, unabashedly walks around on the drawing tables in red socks and kicks rulers to the side. But is the Opel Manta so beautiful? Not even Albrecht Dürer knew exactly what beauty actually is. In any case, it is striking that Jordan has realized a stylistic contrast program to the masculine and more muscular Ford Capri, if you will a more feminine line, which nevertheless never conceals that the new one comes from Rüsselsheim and is therefore a real Opel.

At the front there is a heavily modified Kadett face with distinctive double headlights, the rear is cut off straight and with its large round lights gives a touch of Opel GT. A shot of Rekord Coupé is added - exactly at the point where the roof pours out towards the rear. The new Opel Manta measures exactly 4.34 meters in length - eight centimeters more than the Capri, without a measuring tape it is difficult to convey it visually. The interior is pleasantly light thanks to the large windows, and the rear view is limited due to the design.

A large trunk is included in the Opel Manta A

No compromises have to be made with the Opel Manta trunk, even in comparison with limousines. Opel puts the volume at an impressive 500 liters. The new coupé is therefore suitable for families - one of the most important selling points for this type of car. No surprises in the interior. We are Opel, every fiber of the interior seems to call out, how reassuring. Steering wheel from the record, instruments from the record, below the long, rubber-coated gas pedal, on the console a short, skinny gear lever for the four forward gears. The seats of the Opel Manta are flexible and poorly contoured, the rear space is tight. That may be soEven in the Capri, you can't sit properly at the back.

Change of location, the first driving impression will be made on the Opel test site in Dudenhofen. Photographer Weitmann wears a checkered greenish jacket with leather buttons with his red socks and has given the Hasselblad camera a long focal length. The man who once held Richard von Frankenberg in his spectacular Avus fall in the elevated north bend, half hanging out of the Porsche Spyder, does not necessarily want a rollover, but dynamic curve photos and the most spectacular pace possible. It's not that easy with the Manta - it's just too good for that.

The Opel Manta A is particularly good-natured in fast corners

It does it, also with regard to the Return on sales from Opel, with the simplest, but skilfully made chassis technology. At the front there is a relatively complex wishbone suspension, but at the rear there is still a rigid axle, at least with coil springs. The good-naturedness in fast corners, which only require a minimum of driving skill, is particularly impressive.

But long bends require power if you want to experience them as a curve, and the Opel Manta is excessively powerful, at least in that Basic engine not recommended. Opel has rediscovered the sixteen hundred class with it, this old GT class displacement, and has the basic Manta compete with only 68 hp - a normal gasoline engine, by the way, which already produces 80 hp as a 1600 S and higher compression . Above that ranks the 1.9-liter with 90 horsepower, and only with this four-cylinder does the Manta run as it formally dictates. In a later test report, this initially most powerful Opel Manta will accelerate to 100 km /h in 12.6 seconds and reach a maximum of 173 km /h - at that time performance values ​​that could be seen.

The Opel Manta A engines come from the Opel Rekord

A three-speed automatic transmission is only available with this performance level, because the Manta should also please those customers who only look sporty but don't want to drive wild. All Opel Manta engines initially come from the well-behaved mid-range model Rekord - they are all alien to speed. This is mainly due to the nasal engine sound - anyone who expects the powerful sound of the rally cadet is mistaken. Manta customers will not be disappointed by the solidity and unpretentiousness of these large-series four-cylinder machines, which are not real OHC machines, but only have their chain-driven camshafts raised, from where they operate the wide rocker arms via short tappets.

There are no six-cylinders like in the Capri. They won't come in the future either, not even in the Opel Manta B, which made its debut five years later and which has become a completely different winged ray. After all, gasoline injection found its way into the Opel four-cylinder in 1974,Designation GT /E. We leave Dudenhofen with mostly positive feelings, we still have no idea what a great sales success Opel will be granted with this good car. The original Manta, now a rare collector's item, has been issued 500,000 times over the years, the successor named Opel Manta B will have almost 600,000 copies in 13 years.

And it will be an Opel with an image, but not that very best. Opel Manta jokes are told that get their punch line from the simplicity of their owners. Allegedly they all stick their elbows out of the window, wear the antennas of their radios foxtails, and usually a hairdresser sits in the passenger seat. There is even a feature film that both honors and satirizes this Opel. Its title says it all: Manta, Manta.


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